With music, lyrics and a book by Richard O’Brien. The Rocky Horror Show is a tribute to the horror and science fiction movies of the 1940 – 70s. The original London production, produced and directed by Jim Sharman, premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in June 1973,.
The original Australian stage production opened in Sydney in April 1974 running for almost two years and featuring Reg Livermore as Frank’n’Furter. A Melbourne production opened in late 1975, with Max Phipps as Frank’n’Furter and Joan Brockenshire as Magenta. And who could forget the classic cult film released in 1975 starring Tim Curry as Frank’n’Furter and Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff.
Under Christopher Luscombe’s direction, Rocky Horror is a wild and an untamed thing. While is may not have the subversive edge of its predecessors, it is certainly a fun night out watching this tightly honed cast relish in the material that features many timeless classics, Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the Time Warp.
Hugh Durrant’s design pays homage to both the English pantomime and the shows film heritage, complimented by Nick Richings’ lighting, to create it’s rock n roll feel and Sue Blane’s costumes to create a wonderfully humourous gothic atmosphere. Nathan M Wright’s choreography is splendidly fun.
There was much ‘anticipation’ in this opening night audience, and there is nothing more enjoyable than watching a cast who are obviously having fun at what they are doing. It may have been 22 years since he last played Frank’n’Furter, however, Craig McLachlan certainly turns a treat as this show-stopping transvestite.
Erika Heynatz first seen as an archetypical usherette 1950s wide-eyed optimism, materialises later as a feisty Magenta for the majority of the show. Kristian Lavercombe is impressive as Franks’ loyal henchman, Riff Raff, with an incredible vocal range and moves to match, while Ashlea Pyke is bright and bubbly as Frank’s groupie, Columbia
Tim Maddren and Christie Whelan Browne are lovably sweet as the hapless young innocents Brad and Janet, Nicholas Christo brings a classic rock edge as Eddie, only to return later as the wheelchair bound Dr Scott. Brendan Irving is suitably buffed as Rocky, Tony Farrell as the Narrator is the very model of an English Gentlemam, while Vincent Hooper, Luigi Lucente, Meghan O’Shea and Angela Scundi round out the cast as the highly energetic Phantoms.
Rocky Horror needs to be loud and under Dave Skelton and his band, it certainly delivers with a bold and brassy sound. This tight outfit never misses a beat, keeping the pace rollicking on, while respecting the more quieter moments such as Frank’s swansong Going Home and Brad’s reflective Once in Awhile – a song that never made it into the movie.
For many, the Rocky Horror Show will be a trip down memory lane, so give yourself over to absolute pleasure and visit Frank and his kooky cast of characters – you won’t be disappointed!
The Rocky Horror Show
Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 26 April 2014 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 13 July 2014
For more information, visit: www.rockyhorror.com.au for details.
Image: Craig McLachlan and Cast in The Rocky Horror Show – photo by Jeff Busby
Review: Rohan Shearn